Two hours after a suspicious package was found, motorists were being strongly advised to avoid downtown Atlanta. Those already driving are being forced off the interstates, causing traffic backups around downtown. And rush hour hasn’t even officially started.
The package was found at the 14th Street bridge shortly after 1 p.m., forcing police to close the Downtown Connector shortly before 2 p.m. An hour later, it remained closed, forcing massive traffic backups on Atlanta interstates.
Motorists advised to avoid downtown Atlanta photo The Downtown Connector was shut down in both directions Feb. 2, 2015, as Atlanta police investigated a suspicious package. BEN GRAY / BGRAY@AJC.COM Dozens of drivers were stuck in place in both directions on I-75 and I-85, and others were advised to avoid the area. That led to backups on many cross streets throughout the city.
All lanes on I-75/85 southbound and northbound are closed between 17th Street and I-20, according to GDOT. Motorists traveling northbound are being diverted to I-20 eastbound and westbound. Motorists traveling southbound on I-85 are being diverted to I-75 northbound. Motorists traveling southbound on I-75 are being diverted to I-85 northbound.
Just after 1:40 p.m., Officer Kim Jones with the Atlanta Police Department told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a “tube-shaped object” was found duct taped to the east side of the bridge at the base of a green post.
An hour later, a bomb squad truck was sitting in the middle of the northbound lanes on the Connector, halfway between 10th and 14th streets. But the interstate was empty of other travelers.
The GDOT’s early estimated clearance time is 4 p.m. But it was not known when the investigation would be completed in the area, according to Atlanta police.
For alternate routes, check the WSB 24-Hour Traffic Center. Side streets, including Northside Drive, Howell Mill Road, Freedom Parkway and Courtland Street, were clogged as drivers were forced off the interstates.
Those using mass transit, such as Gwinnett County buses, were being advised of delays due to interstate closures.